Google Brings Its Local Discovery App “Field Trip” To The iPhone

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Google’s location-based Field Trip application has just made its way to the iTunes App Store today, after previously having been Android-only. The app, which works a little bit like Google Now, runs in the background on your phone then automatically shows you information about nearby businesses, including places to shop, dine, and be entertained.

Not entirely coincidentally, a location-discovery app from a startup called Spindle, also rolled out an update today which does something very similar. Both apps are likely competing to get in the hands of SXSW attendees at the forthcoming Austin, Texas-based event where thousands of people converge. It’s a place which has historically served as a beta testing ground for new services focused on local and social.

google field trip ios interestsWhile Spindle sources data from social media postings, Field Trip instead pulls in information from publications like Thrillist, Food Network, Cool Hunting, Arcadia, Run Riot, Sunset, Inhabitat, Remodelista, Atlas Obscura, Daily Secret, Google’s Zagat, and others. And as of January, Scoutmob, too, which allows the app to alert users to nearby offers and deals. Google Offers and Vayable’s selection of travel experiences are also available.

You’re in control of which sources you want to see, which allows you to use the app primarily for deal-finding, for example, or to only be alerted to nearby historical sites, perhaps.

The way the app functions – running in the background with automated alerts- is very much like the Android-only experience currently offered by Google Now. Though the design and focus of Field Trip is much different than that of Google Now, it’s clear that the app is meant to serve as a testing ground for user behavior.

That is, what kinds of things do users really want to know about the businesses and other places around them? What sort of alerts do they configure? Which ones do they click on? And so on. The learnings that come from Google’s Field Trip could eventually be incorporated into Google Now, or into Google’s Groupon-like competitor, Google Offers, at some point in the future.

The iOS app is available for download from iTunes here.